Archive for post-rock

Album Review: Gregor Samsa, Over Air

Posted in Music Reviews with tags , , , , , on Wednesday, February 18, 2009 by Ryan Buege

Gregor Samsa, Over AirAs I sit here fully expecting winter to be over, some of the biggest snowflakes of the season start to make their way to the ground. Nothing is better for stifling my mild anger at this occasion and inciting some reflection than some uplifting post-rock. To my luck, there is a new album in my collection that is perfect for the occasion, Over Air by Gregor Samsa.  This Virgina-based band has assembled a collection of live radio recordings, alternate mixes of previous songs, and an eerie remix from Labradford that amplify their heavenly, multi-layered brilliance with a warmer organic atmosphere than I’ve heard them record thus far.

While I was skeptical at first whether or not this radio session at Amsterdam ‘s Desmet Studios for VPRO would be worth my time, the quality of these songs exceeds that of many releases I’ve heard this year. In truth, this patchwork collection of songs definitely plays like an album, and even reworked songs like “Young & Old” and the non-live mixes sound right in place and are breathing a new life. The live setting does wonders for the atmosphere of the record, as well. It’s quite blissful to see the white, puffy snow drift down as Champ Bennet’s fingers slowly grind along the strings of guitar during a chord change or when the dual vocal melodies exponentiate the wash of noise.

The free flowing driving rhythm and unified (and pronounced) male and female voices of these songs easily distinguish Gregor Samsa from many of the other bands they’re frequently compared to (GY!BE, Sigur Ros, Brian Eno), and the direction of the material is generally much more lively and positive. While they aren’t afraid to shift into more somber territory for extended periods of time, the warm, heart-melting vocals and quiet beeps, storming pianos, rhythmic glitches, and live ambiance keep these sections from feeling neither boring nor depressing. It’s an album that takes its time, causing you to beg for more while you hang on each note. Nothing on the album sounds forced, and the music changes pace very naturally; now it’s fading out, as is the passing storm storm.

Gregor Samsa

If you’re interested in more about this awesome composition, keep reading to dig deeper and view videos & download mp3s from the album and access Gregor Samsa on the web… Continue reading

Album Review: Wolves in the Throne Room, Malevolent Grain

Posted in Music Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on Wednesday, February 4, 2009 by Ryan Buege

Besides hearing a song or two on a mix from a friend in the past, I’m really not familiar with much from Wolves in the Throne Room’s previous output and didn’t really know what to expect when I was introduced to this album this week. However, with that said, after hearing this two-song EP a couple of times, I think I’m going to have to go check out their earlier releases.  Malevolent Grain is the Olympia, Washington-based “ambient black metal” band’s second EP, a prelude to their third long-player Black Cascade which is due later this year.

Right off the bat, I want to acknowledge how much I reallllly love the sound on this album. One reason I’ve never gotten into black metal so much in the past was because the production always (for better or worse) sounded so thin and gritty that the musical appeal was totally lost on me. In the last few years, many black metal bands have overcome this trait and have released albums that are much more heavily layered than the cheap recordings of the early years, and I think the current activity in the USBM scene is evidence of this. Wolves in the Throne Room this approach of density and orchestration to another level entirely, Malevolent Grain has a sound that is as thick as ever with ferocity that is unmatched to boot. In fact, in many ways this album reminded me as much as (or possibly even more than) my favorite orchestral post-rock innovators like GY!BE  as it did of the scathing black metal of Mayhem, Gorgoroth, or Burzum.  To be fair though, many of these bands are now dead or dying. Wolves in the Throne Room are now in a league of their own, following their own vision and innovating on the headbanging classics of these greats with some unparalleled epic blackened rockers of their own.

The album is divided in half, with the first song “A Looming Resonance” beginning the vinyl with a natural, folksy, brooding ambience. Eventually the orchestral buildup is aided by vocals from Jamie Meyers, and as her strong vocals resonate with a Celtic tinge, the song segues into a more viscious psychedelic black metal groove. The entire mix feels more removed from black metal than I could have imagined.  By the end of the song, the increasingly intricate dynamics and dense layering have taken this epic a soul-stirring peak that could replicated by few bands in the world (honestly, only GY!BE comes to mind..). “Hate Crystal” begins in much more tradtional black metal fashion with a blasting rhythm section, sinster riff, and wraith-like vox. As majestic as it is brutal, “Hate Crystal” was the perfect cap to my introduction to this band and faded this sinister EP out brilliantly.

(thanks to Bryan for borrowing the album!)

DIG DEEPER: Buy Malevolent Grain online! –  Official WebsiteMySpace

Sunday Metal Minute: Irepress, “Cyette Phiur”

Posted in Sunday Metalhead Minute with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Monday, February 2, 2009 by Ryan Buege

For these final minutes of your Sunday evening, I highly encourage you to light up, kick back, and enjoy this adventurous new track of polyrhythmic progressive/post metal from Boston, MA group Irepress. The group’s press sheet states that the band will “readily find appeal with fans of  Battles, Cynic and Explosions in the Sky alike”, and I’m inclined to agree with it. While much of the song vibes off of Meshuggah-esque abstract brutality and dissonant hardcore, “Cyette Phiur” is a shoegaze/post-rock epic at its heart. I never thought I would be able to say that I really enjoyed a song integrates both gang vocals AND a string section, but when it works (as it does here) I’ll be the first to admit it. It’s rare that a progressive metal band sounds so at home in such foreign territory, and they’ve got me interested to see what other ideas they’ve pulled together. So far it sounds genius..

Listen: “Cyette Phiur” (from Sol Eye Sea I, in stores 2/17)

Also worthy of note is that Irepress and Fargo, ND (..almost MPLS..) post-metal prodigies Battlefields will soon be heading out on a massive U.S. tour to support the release of their new albums including a 4 day stint in Austin, TX for SXSW. They’ll be in the metro on March 11th for a show with Dark Castle and Vernal Pool. Keep reading for all the tour dates… Continue reading

MONO prepare new album release

Posted in Music News with tags , , on Tuesday, January 6, 2009 by Ryan Buege

The  elusive Japanese quartet of ethereal, engaging, dynamic  post-rock noisemakers known as MONO has finally revealed more information about their followup to the brilliant 2006 album, You Are There. In their words:

Now we can officially announce the release of our 5th album, Hymn to the Immortal Wind. It has been 3 years since the release of our last album and we are truly grateful to still be able to create our music today. Being together as a band for 10 years has brought forth some changes and has hopefully allowed us to grow. We have created a special site to give you a preview of what to expect from Hymn To The Immortal Wind. Please check it out.

According to their website, Hymn To The Imortal Wind will see a U.S. release on March 24, 2009! Right now, for your listening pleasure (we’re bypassing MONO’s flash program), here is the first song from the album, “Ashes in the Snow“. Mark your calendars! Tracklist is:

    1. “Ashes in the Snow” (DOWNLOAD MP3)
    2. “Burial at Sea”
    3. “Silent Flight, Sleeping Dawn”
    4. “Pure as Snow (Trails of the Winter Storm)”
    5. “Follow the Map”
    7. “Everlasting Light”